2014 NFL Draft: Midseason Stock Report for Draft's Top Prospects
The college football season has hit it's midpoint, and with that, it's time to look at which prospects are moving up draft NFL boards and which ones are sliding down.
Evaluating prospects is a process and it is fluid. However, it is something that must be done on a macro level and should never be based upon knee-jerk reactions.
Fans like to bounce players up and down their own personal rankings based on individual performances, but it is obvious that this isn't how it really works at the pro level.
Just like one good game cannot propel a player into the first round, one bad game cannot drop them out of it. The concept of one's entire body of work over the course of a season is what truly matters.
Read on for a midseason stock report for some of the 2014 NFL draft's top prospects.
All stats provided by ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.
TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
On Oct. 17, the rest of the college football was introduced to a player whom many true college football fans already knew about when North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron hauled in eight catches for 199 yards against the Miami Hurricanes.
Ebron isn't the physical specimen that some of the other prospects in this draft are at the position, but his skills are elite. Ebron continues to evolve, even with a rotation at the starting quarterback position for North Carolina. And regardless of what type of defense opposing teams use, he is able to find a way to get open.
Ebron came into the season as something of an unknown from a national standpoint, but with each big game he has had, his stock has continued to climb. At this point, I have Ebron among a cluster of five top tight ends, all of whom could go somewhere in the No. 25-50 pick range.
WR Marqise Lee, USC
There is a bit of deja vu regarding the draft talk surrounding USC wide receiver Marqise Lee.
At the start of the year, I had Lee as my top receiving prospect and a mortal lock to be a top-10 pick. However, as the season has progressed, this view has changed.
Lee is in a tough spot this season, as he has been dealing with a knee injury that has kept him out of parts of three games. Being limited like this has allowed his critics to pounce on him, and paired up with the progress of other players at his position, he may end up being pushed out of the first round entirely.
Hopefully, Lee can get healthy and perform well for the remainder of the season in order to salvage his first-round status.
QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU
An easy criticism of LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been that he plays on a team that is so loaded on defense and at the skill positions that it masks his deficiencies as a quarterback. I suppose, on some level, that was true last season. This year, however, things are different.
Mettenberger has improved his mechanics, particularly from the waist down, and has literally re-invented himself. We often see players progress like this every season, but when the heat is on, many of them revert back to what they know. That hasn't been the case with Mettenberger.
Mettenberger has ideal size at 6'5" and 230 pounds, so it is just a matter of cleaning up a few small parts of his game up if he wants to cement himself among the top quarterback prospects.
DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
True 3-4 defensive ends are a rare thing in college football. That fact alone makes Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt more valuable than his talent might indicate. However, in 2012, the Notre Dame defender played well enough to justify a first-round pick.
This season has been a different story, though. Tuitt is struggling to get off blocks, looks a step slower than last year and isn't showing the strength at the point of attack that made him so herd to deal with.
I can't quite put my finger on why Tuitt has struggled so much, but it is clear that he is not the same player he was last year, and he could find himself disappointed on draft day.
OG Cyril Richardson, Baylor
Baylor offensive guard Cyril Richardson has been the top guard in the country for some time. The rub with any guard, though, is: just how high can you justify selecting them?
Richardson has played well enough this year that a top-15 pick for him seems to be reasonable if a team feels like a massive road-grading guard is the player that can put them over the top. Realistically, somewhere between picks No. 12-25 would make a lot of sense in terms of his skills.
Richardson has practically no competition at his position, so the thing that could hurt his draft stock would be other players at different positions moving up past him and keeping him down.
CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Adding Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby to this list is a bit of a misnomer. Roby's stock isn't really falling in the same sense as some of the other players on this list. But, in the eyes of the masses, including college football fans, Roby is tumbling.
The fact is that Roby has essentially had one bad half of football this year, but that should not impact his draft stock. If anything has pushed him down, it's been the emergence of other players in the defensive backfield that could force him down a little.